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University of Maryland Department of Physics 1117 John S. Toll Physics Building College Park , MD 20742



xxxxxxxxxxxxDecember 2006 - Issue 52


Q & A with Alumnus Matthew LaHaye

Matthew LaHaye grew up just outside of Rochester, NY. He received his PhD, in Physics, from UMD in 2005. The following are his responses to questions regarding his physics journey:

What schools do you attend and what degrees did you obtain?

I received my BS in physics an philosophy from the State University of NY at Albany (SUNY). Graduated in 1999. I received my PhD in physics from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2005---my PhD thesis project was titled "The Radio-Frequency Single-Electron Transistor Displacement Detector," and advised by Keith Schwab. I actually worked in the quantum computing group at the Laboratory for Physical Sciences (LPS).

What led you to the University of Maryland?

Several things: (1) The size of the physics department; I wasn't entirely sure which direction to pursue in grad school, so I was looking for a school with a physics department offering a broad range of research. (2) The ranking of the department; I knew it was among the best physics departments in the nation. (3) The close proximity of UMCP to DC; Washington was one of my favorite cities and still is; there's so much history and energy.

Where do you currently work?

After graduating from Maryland, I accepted a postdoctoral scholarship at Cal Tech in Pasadena, CA, working with Professor Michael Roukes' nanomechanics group. My main responsibility is in leading the quantum nanomechanics experimental effort. We're currently investigating the coupling of nanomechanical devices to solid-state qubits. The whole point is to use the qubits to prepare and observe non-classical behavior in what are essentially macroscopic degrees of freedom, e.g. the center of mass motion of a rod consisting of billions of atoms. It's really fundamental research directed ultimately toward testing quantum mechanics in a new limit.

Do you enjoy it?

I do. At this point in my life, it's right where I want to be: working in a stimulating environment with a large degree of freedom.

What advice would you give current students?

Remain open-minded and well informed. You're going to meet a lot of people from all across the spectrum; if you want, each encounter can be an opportunity to learn something valuable about the world you live in.

If you are interested in contacting Matthew LaHaye, please send your messages to the Editor, who will be happy to forward your questions and comments.